The dominance of big teams in China's scientific output

by   Linlin Liu, et al.

Modern science is dominated by scientific productions from teams. A recent finding shows that teams with both large and small sizes are essential in research, prompting us to analyze the extent to which a country's scientific work is carried out by big/small teams. Here, using over 26 million publications from Web of Science, we find that China's research output is more dominated by big teams than the rest of the world, which is particularly the case in fields of natural science. Despite the global trend that more papers are done by big teams, China's drop in small team output is much steeper. As teams in China shift from small to large size, the team diversity that is essential for innovative works does not increase as much as that in other countries. Using the national average as the baseline, we find that the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) supports fewer small team works than the National Science Foundation of U.S. (NSF) does, implying that big teams are more preferred by grant agencies in China. Our finding provides new insights into the concern of originality and innovation in China, which urges a need to balance small and big teams.


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